Campers brace for chilly start to Memorial Day weekend

KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Memorial Day weekend may be the unofficial start to summer, but the weather feels far from it this year.

This weekend, you'll typically find people flocking to area lakes and campgrounds soaking in that summertime feel. But as temperatures plan to plummet Friday night, it's making that outdoor activity a bit more challenging, even dangerous in some cases.

Camping -- it's a traditional Memorial Day weekend pastime, but this year there's a twist to the classic warm weather holiday.

"It's a little chilly out here," said camper Barry Phillips.

Topping out at 66 degrees Friday, temperatures were 12 degrees below normal, and they could hit a record low Saturday morning in the 30s.

We caught up with campers Friday evening 'chilling out' at Warriors' Path State Park. "We'll use campfire 'til we go to bed. Then when we go to bed, we got plenty of blankets and brought some extra sleeping bags," said Phillips.

Camper Jessica Moles hopes her blankets and reinforced tent will be enough. "It's probably going to be a little chilly. We're just going to put some more covers on," Moles said.

For those hitting the lake this weekend, there's a word of warning: that water is cold. "56 degrees Fahrenheit," said Bob Martin, a fisherman just coming off the water of Fort Patrick Henry Lake.

Even though the water may feel pretty tolerable on the surface, go a few feet deeper and those temperatures could be a lot colder.

Dr. Robert Connell with Wellmont Medical Associates told News 5 he doesn't advise spending long periods of time in the water unless it's above 70 degrees. Below that temperature, you could be at risk for hypothermia. "The body kind of shuts down to keep the blood in the heart and going to the head as well," said Dr. Connell.

Martin assured us he won't be jumping in this weekend, but he may not even reel in any fish. "Typically cold water and changing temperatures don't usually make the fishing any better," said Martin.

Even if the temperatures come with a chilly sting, these outdoor enthusiasts are ready to make the most of it. "We're all going to be together and hanging out so we'll be alright," said Moles.

Here's another helpful tip if you're on the water this weekend: Dr. Connell told us if you do plan to jump in, make sure you have a blanket or a towel with you to warm up your body temperature as quickly as possible.

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